Paiko Ohana: Deanna Rose and Tantalus Mist

Deep in the lush backroads of Manoa Valley, you'll find a mossy cottage where none other than Deanna Rose resides. Her company, Indigo Elixirs, focuses on bringing medicinal and beauty products made with "love and pure, local, healing, botanical ingredients." It's in this tiny cottage, that each product is hand-made.  

This week we debut our new collaboration with Indigo Elixirs, 'Tantalus', a light room and body mist inspired by life in the Tantalus jungle above Honolulu (the neighborhood of Paiko founder Tamara Rigney).  Locally sourced Hawaiian sandalwood and vetiver are the base of this fresh and intoxicating scent, available exclusively at Paiko.



Can you describe how you and Tamara came up with the Tantalus scent?

The idea for the spray was inspired by Tamara's lush jungle oasis of a home on the ridge. When we began brainstorming ideas for an elixir, she said that she wanted to create something that truly captured the essence of Tantalus - the eucalyptus trees with overtones of fresh flora and undertones of smoke lingering from a neighbor's house. We spent a day wandering around up there, first throughout the land surrounding her house and then along Round Top Drive. We got into the car of a friend who happened to be driving by, taking in the air and stopping to crush and inhale fallen eucalyptus leaves and other roadside flowers. After becoming significantly inspired, we headed back to her house and mixed up the scent, drop by drop of essential oil into a base of the vetiver essential hydrosol. 

paiko tantalus mist

How did you get into herbal medicine?

In the beginning, I just wanted to create something that could cure my frizzy Armenian hair and dry Northeastern skin. Inspired to use ingredients that were already growing in our family's garden or stocked in our kitchen, I began concocting recipes just for myself, and then for family and friends. By the time I was a senior in college, I had developed a small line of products under the name Indigo Elixirs. I started selling at local farmers' markets, and customers were quick to ask for more healing items that could relieve topical ailments such as eczema and pain. This led me to sign up for my first herbal apprenticeship at a farm called Misty Meadows in New Hampshire, where I learned the fundamentals of making medicine. I immediately fell in love with the art, and have been studying herbalism ever since. 

Why did you come to Hawaii?

I grew up in Massachusetts, and moved out to the West Coast to live on an old steamship when I was in my early twenties. After a year of living in the quiet, retired hippie houseboat community outside of San Francisco, I felt compelled to continue my herbal studies in a more tropical environment. I started searching for Ethnobotany graduate programs, and UH Manoa is what comes up first on the google search.  I had made a few friends from O'ahu in the Bay, and while I had never been to Hawaii, I felt compelled to try it out. Not long after I moved here and was enrolled as a full-time student, I realized that the program was just not what I was looking for - but I kept getting signs telling me to stay, and quickly fell in love with the island. Eventually, I found a grad program that perfectly suited my interests, and I am currently getting my Masters in Acupuncture & Herbology from the World Medicine Institute in 'Aina Haina. 


What are some things you have access to in Hawaii that you don’t find anywhere else?

Hawaii has a super unique set of flora - after moving here, my line went through a complete metamorphosis so that I could truly reflect what the islands have to offer. A few of my favorite materials include vetiver grass, which my friend  Jason of Vetiver Farms Hawaii grows & distills on Big Island, to yield a beautiful green essential oil and bluish hydrosol that we used as a base for our Tantalus elixir. I also get a wonderful sandalwood essential oil from my friend Tyson of Malama distillations, which I also added to the blend. I love the Hawaiian cacao that I get from the folks at Madre Chocolate - I infuse their shells leftover from chocolate making into my Mocha Rose Stain, Chocolate Balm & Hot Mint Chocolate Bar. Achiote is another local favorite, whose colorful oily seeds give my Citrus Blossom Stain its vibrant orangey hue. And I of course am head over heels for all of the fragrant local flowers, particularly the champaka, pikake, plumeria & puakinikini, all of which I regularly rub on my wrists as a 'fresh' perfume. 

What are some of the powers of fragrance? ( i.e. healing, emotional, recalling a time, person, place)

Fragrance is intensely powerful - processed through a separate part of the brain than the rest of our senses, it is deeply connected to both our instincts and emotions. A nostalgic scent can take us back in time... to our grandmother's living room, the summer after high school, a foreign city that we visited long ago. Sometimes we get a hint of something that we can't even quite trace, but it overwhelms us with a familiar feeling. The abilities of the aromatic transfers to medicine, as well: certain properties of herbs need only be inhaled to affect the body. Because essential oils are concentrated, this ability is greatly enhanced, and their scent alone can be used for healing. This is the reason I love to make custom perfumes; it allows me to create a blend that perfectly suits the wearer's aromatic palate. Making the Tantalus scent was a new kind of challenge in this realm, and I had a lot of fun experiencing and taking in that place with the intention of capturing it within a formulation. Now, whenever I immerse myself in the spray, I feel like I've traveled out of the valley and up to the top of the ridge. 


Where’s your favorite place in Hawaii to recharge and get inspired?


My current home in the back of Manoa is a pretty magical space. I have an entire wall of windows that looks onto a little forest of beautiful ferns and wild gingers, and the Manoa stream runs about ten feet from my cottage - when we get a fair amount of rain, the sound of the water rushing by is so rejuvenating. Aside from the elements & animals, it's so quiet back here, and a wonderful space to create. Outside of my house, I love to recharge with a day of sunning & swimming, usually at Makapu'u beach. If I'm seeking inspiration, anywhere lush will do the trick - arboretums, botanical gardens, trails in the back of the valley....

Photos by Kenna Reed 

This Season's Inspiration

After this month's insane heat wave, we were more than ready for Summer to be over. Naturally, our summer displays had to go and we were on the prowl for some Fall inspo. After some late night pinning and flips through our favorite reads, we set eyes on the mothership of all inspiration. Let's just say, the only Coco's we're obsessed with aren't just coconuts. This season our display inspiration came from Chanel's 2015 Haute Couture Spring Fashion Show. After watching the show about a dozen times, we "chanel-ed" our inner Coco and got to work. 

We tried to incorporate as much of a Hawaii vibe as possible, tracing monsterra leaves from our yards and pulling colors that resembled the island's tropical flora. 

Photo by Jordan Lee

Photo by Jordan Lee

Photo by Jordan Lee

Photo by Jordan Lee

For the full experience, stop by Paiko, grab a latte and enjoy! 


Photos and Story by Kenna Reed (unless specified otherwise) 

Botanical Basics: Twinkle Orchids

Recently, we’ve been very into little orchids: dendrobium orchids, lady-slipper orchids, and our personal favorite: twinkle orchids.

Before they bloom, Oncidium, “twinkle,” orchids appear to be a pretty basic orchid, exposed roots, thick dark green rounded leaves and “twig-like” sprays. However, when their tiny buds open, they put out a constellation of delicate miniature orchid flowers with a sweetness reminiscent of vanilla.  

Our twinkle orchids at Paiko are most often white and yellow, but they also come in various shades of red. Larger growths can produce up to a hundred miniature blooms usually in the winter and once in the summer. 

Taking home your very own Twinkle Orchid? Here are a few tips on how to ensure it lives the best possible life. Since the plant is miniature it’s able to live its entire life in one container, and don't be alarmed if you see roots peek out- these plants actually enjoy being root-bound and exposed roots are just searching for a little air. Ideally use a special orchid mix, which usually contains a mixture of bark and peat moss.

Twinkles do well indoors. Avoid direct sunlight and find a nice naturally lit area of your house. This also helps to maintain an appropriate temperature, and note that twinkle orchids are not fans of quick temperature change. Water your orchid just before the soil completely dries out- about 2 times per week. Gently water the roots and potting mix, allowing any excess water to drain through through. To ensure a long flowering span, fertilize monthly when flowering.

Simple Care Breakdown:

Lighting: Partial to full shade, no direct sunlight.
Watering: Water just before plant starts to dry out, soaking soil, but draining any excess water to avoid root rot.
Fertilizer: Monthly when flowering, every few months otherwise.



Photos (unless otherwise noted) and Story by Kenna Reed 




Fruity Fun at Frankies

You only have to drive through Waimanalo once to know that it's filled with plant nurseries. With nearly every telephone pole stapled with homemade plant sale flyers and arrows pointing you in all directions, we plant lovers have a hard time resisting this treasure box of green goodies.

Deep in Waimanalo, at the base of the Koolau mountains, you'll find one of our favorite nurseries: Frankie's. The long driveway lined with a mixed bag of fruit trees is an appropriate introduction to what you can expect at this one-of-a-kind local gem. Specializing in tropical and sub-tropical fruit trees, the owners travel bi-annually to various countries seeking new species of fruit that will successfully grow in Hawai'i.

Frankie, himself, grafting baby avocado trees.

Frankie, himself, grafting baby avocado trees.

After 30+ years of business, it's no surprise that Frankie and his family have developed an affinity for the most unique, rare fruits available. And as humble as they seem, the people of Frankie's Nursery are more than ready for you to rack their brains and answer any questions you might have about every fruit from Wax Jambu to Rambutan. 

Jackfruit on shelves. 

Jackfruit on shelves. 

That being said, what we're really hear to tell you about has nothing to do with buying fruit trees. Although walking the grounds is an absolute must, our favorite part of Frankie's can be found right at the main house, where you're taken to at check out. 


In a small patio area lined with metal tables and bins, you'll be surrounded by fruits harvested from the nursery. Unlike your typical fruit stand selling coconuts and pineapples, Frankie's prides themselves in selling every fruit you've never heard of.

Mangosteen on table.

Mangosteen on table.

Even the fruit that appears to be more common, like mango, are probably a rare variety that you never knew existed. Of course they are, it's Frankie's! 

Boxed pitaya/dragonfruit. 

Boxed pitaya/dragonfruit. 

Keitt mangos in tray. 

Keitt mangos in tray. 

Pineapple tops being prepped for planting. 

Pineapple tops being prepped for planting. 

Dwarf wi apple in basket

Dwarf wi apple in basket


By Kenna Reed
Photos by Kenna Reed shot on a Contax T3


A Hop Over to the Big Island

We took a trekk over to the Big Island last week to visit our favorite protea farm and do some exploring.  Although protea are most prolific in the winter, there were many blooms popping their bright heads out, in addition to groves of sweetly scented eucalyptus and wax flower.  After a lovely day of lunch and roaming the grounds with our farmers, we headed up to Volcano National Park for some adventuring in the tree ferns. 

Photographer Mariko Reed was along on this trip to gather images for an upcoming book with Paiko's Tamara Rigney (to be released next spring through Paiko Press- stay tuned for more info!)

paiko protea
paiko protea 1
paiko mariko reed
paiko banksia
paiko ferns
paiko hilo

photos and story by Tamara Rigney

Botanical Basics: Anthurium brownii

If you’ve been into the shop lately, you’ve probably noticed that Paiko has been overflowing with plants. We wanted to take the time to introduce you to one of our sexiest and easiest plants to take care of:  Anthurium brownii.

These anthuriums prefer wet, tropical environments, so it's to no surprise that they can be found from Costa Rica to Columbia. It also shouldn't be a surprise then, that Hawai'i makes an ideal habitat for them.  Anthurium brownii can be identified by its striking, ruffled, yellow veined leaves, and long spindly flowers. These aren't the type of anthurium flowers you spot at the farmers market.

This active guy flowers and fruits year round. The blooms are composed of a long protruding spadix covered in spirals of minuscule "flowers," and spathe, a leaf-like bract that hangs down beneath the spadix.   When the bloom is fresh, you  may also notice tiny (roughly 5 mm wide) "fruit" varying in color. 

Thinking of adopting your own little "brownii" ? You're in luck. They're extremely easy to take care of and can handle even the brownest of  thumbs (within reason). For lighting: Anthuriums want bright, indirect light, but can do well in partial to full shade. More indirect light = more vibrant and frequent blooms. Direct sun is too harsh and will burn leaves. For watering: Water regularly, generally whenever soil is dry to the touch (not dry to the point where soil is shrinking/cracking). Anthuriums are susceptible to root rot, so be sure to not over water. For fertilizing: Anthuriums don't require a whole lot of it. But... If you want the most out of your plant, fertilize every four months with a one-quarter strength fertilizer. 

Simple Care Breakdown:

Lighting: Partial to full shade; no direct sunlight. 

Watering: Water regularly; do not overwater. Prefers consistently moist (not drenched) soil, do not let dry out completely between waterings. 

Fertilizer: Every four months, if feeling ambitious. 



Photos and story by Kenna Reed

In Bloom: Night Blooming Cereus

It’s hard to miss the three hundred meter long hedge of cacti surrounding the grounds of Honolulu's Punahou School. By day, the cacti are relatively non-descript: green and gangly, sitting on their lava rock perch.  But these aren’t just any cacti, these are Night-Blooming Cereus, Hylocereus undatus.  What most of us didn’t know, is that when the sun sets, these plants come to life.

Between the months of June and October, these summer loving superstars begin to open in the late afternoon, taking many hours to reach full bloom. Not much of a night owl? The Cereus can also be seen early in the morning till about 6 o’ clock.

image from:

image from:

If you’ve ever seen the Night Blooming Cereus, or “Queen of the Night,” in other parts of the island, chances are they’re related to those growing around the Punahou grounds.

In the late 1800s, on the ship Ivanhoe, first mate, Charles Brewer picked up a few clippings of the plant in Mexico while on his way over to Honolulu. Only a single clipping survived the journey, which was later planted and given to a woman affiliated with the school. Eventually the entire hedge was planted, becoming one of the most impressive night-blooming cacti hedges in the country.

Unfortunately, these gorgeous gems are only for looking. Taking clippings or flowers from the hedge is strictly prohibited and is an offense that is taken very Cereus-ly (tee hee). 


Fun Fact: Hylocereus undatus plants are the source of the treasured dragon fruit or 'pitaya', but the variety found at Punahou is ornamental and sadly produces no fruit. Look for the fruit producing variety of Hylocereus undatus in many Honolulu back-yards and gardens.

Photos & story by: Kenna Reed

Psycho-Tropic with Barrio Vintage

The GTO's ( the 1960's band of Frank Zappa groupies), were the psychedelic muse behind Barrio Vintage's Psycho-Tropic fashion show at The Manifest last week. Paiko, with the help of talented friends A.Wattz and Kevin Nagler, went deep into the jungle to channel the 60's Sunset Strip vibes into wild botanical ornaments, which were draped over ensembles of head to toe color and print by Barrio. Here's a glimpse of the magic of that night.

paiko awattz tillandsia
tamara rigney psychotropic
paiko awattz fashion leaves
kevin nagler leaves 2
tamara garland

Photos by Eunji Paula Kim
Story by Tamara Rigney